What’s in a name? Ukraine plans to rename the roads connected to Russia

A Soviet-era monument to friendship between Ukrainian and Russian nations is seen following its demolition, following the Russian invasion of Ukraine, in central Kiev, Ukraine on April 26, 2022. (Reuters / Gleb Garanich / File Photo)

Several Ukrainian cities plan to rename streets and squares associated with Russia as part of a process of “derussification” following the invasion of Moscow.

The day after the dismantling of a huge Soviet-era monument in Kiev that was to symbolize friendship between Russia and Ukraine, the city council said Wednesday it had compiled a list of 467 locations that could be considered for renaming.

They included a central square named after the 19th-century writer Leo Tolstoy and a street called Lake Baikal in Russia. Also on the list was a street named after Minsk, the capital of close Russian ally Belarus.

Since Ukraine declared the independence of the Soviet Union in 1991, the names of some cities have been changed to erase the legacy of hated Soviet officials. Some officials now want to remove the names of Russian authors, poets and mountain ranges.

Ihor Terekhov, mayor of the eastern Ukrainian city of Kharkiv, said Wednesday that as soon as the war with Russia is over, he will present a bill to his city council to rename places with names affiliated with Russia.

“Even without these names, there will be too many scars that will long remind us of the kind of neighbor beyond our eastern and northern borders,” he wrote on the Telegram messaging app.

Cities and towns in the north of Ukraine have started the process of renaming the streets according to the army units defending them.

At the proposal of the governor of the Chernihiv region, the streets or squares of the regional capital would be renamed with the 1st Separate Tank Brigade.

Culture Minister Oleksandr Tkachenko last week warned against the total removal of anything affiliated with Russia.

Citing the Ukrainian-born Russian novelist Nikolai Gogol as an example, he said that some “figures … belong to the global heritage of (cultural) heritage”.

Moscow calls its military action a “special operation” to disarm Ukraine and defeat the fascists. Ukraine and the West argue that the fascist accusation is unfounded and that the war is an unprovoked act of aggression.

—Reporting by Max Hunder, editing by Timothy Heritage

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